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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Barack Obama

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Barack Obama





Last Build Date: Sat, 11 Apr 2009 10:05:59 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2009
 



Obama's Weekly Address on Easter and Passover

Sat, 11 Apr 2009 10:05:59 -0600

This idea - that we are all bound up, as Martin Luther King once said, in "a single garment of destiny"- is a lesson of all the world's great religions. And never has it been more important for us to reaffirm that lesson than it is today - at a time when we face tests and trials unlike any we have seen in our time. An economic crisis that recognizes no borders. Violent extremism that's claimed the lives of innocent men, women, and children from Manhattan to Mumbai. An unsustainable dependence on foreign oil and other sources of energy that pollute our air and water and threaten our planet. The proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons, the persistence of deadly disease, and the recurrence of age-old conflicts.

These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone. The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations. That is why I met with leaders of the G-20 nations to ensure that the world's largest economies take strong and unified action in the face of the global economic crisis. Together, we've taken steps to stimulate growth, restore the flow of credit, open markets, and dramatically reform our financial regulatory system to prevent such crises from occurring again - steps that will lead to job creation at home.

It is only by working together that we will finally defeat 21st century security threats like al Qaeda. So it was heartening that our NATO allies united in Strasbourg behind our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and contributed important resources to support our effort there.

It is only by coordinating with countries around the world that we will stop the spread of the world's most dangerous weapons. That is why I laid out a strategy in Prague for us to work with Russia and other nations to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; to secure nuclear materials from terrorists; and, ultimately, to free the world from the menace of a nuclear nightmare.

And it is only by building a new foundation of mutual trust that we will tackle some of our most entrenched problems. That is why, in Turkey, I spoke to members of Parliament and university students about rising above the barriers of race, region, and religion that too often divide us.

With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can't afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can't afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find - and build on - our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins.

Make no mistake: we live in a dangerous world, and we must be strong and vigilant in the face of these threats. But let us not allow whatever differences we have with other nations to stop us from coming together around those solutions that are essential to our survival and success.

As we celebrate Passover, Easter, and this time of renewal, let's find strength in our shared resolve and purpose in our common aspirations. And if we can do that, then not only will we fulfill the sacred meaning of these holy days, but we will fulfill the promise of our country as a leader around the world.




We're Starting to See Progress on the Economy

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 20:12:44 -0600

And I want to thank SEC Chair Mary Shapiro, as well as Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, for joining us. They weren't with us the last time we met. We discussed ongoing stabilization of the financial system and the steps that have already been taken. I spoke yesterday about the progress that's been made in the housing market. As a consequence of some excellent work by Ben and some coordinated activities between the various agencies, what we've seen is mortgage interest rates go down to historic lows and we've seen a very significant pick-up in refinancings. That has the effect of not only putting money in the pockets of people but also contributing to stabilization of the housing market. We discussed the public-private investment mechanisms that we have set up so that we can start getting some of these toxic assets off the books. And all the agencies here have been involved in further refining the ideas and making them work effectively, and we feel confident that even as we're dealing with the problems within the banking system, that we're also addressing some of the problems in the non-bank financial system that was such a huge proportion of our credit flow when it came to things like auto loans and credit cards and so forth. We feel very good about the progress that we're making in unlocking lending in some particular markets, for example the small business area. Some of you will recall that a couple of weeks ago we made a presentation about how we were going to help thaw lending to small businesses, and I'm pleased to discover that because of our actions we've seen a 20 percent increase in the largest SBA loan program in the last month alone. And what that means is that small businesses are starting to get money that allows them to keep their doors open, make payroll, and that is going to contribute to our overall economic growth, as well as help make sure that people are able to keep their jobs. And we have also seen this month people starting to get their first checks in terms of the tax cuts that were initiated through the recovery package. And when you combine it with the other efforts that are being made across the country for infrastructure projects, for the kinds of innovative energy programs that were part of the recovery package, what you're starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy. Now, we have always been very cautious about prognosticating and that's not going to change just because it's Easter. The economy is still under severe stress and obviously during these holidays we have to keep in mind that whatever we do ultimately has to translate into economic growth and jobs and rising incomes for the American people. And right now, we're still seeing a lot of job losses, a lot of hardship, people finding themselves in very difficult situations either because they've lost their home, they've seen their savings deteriorate, and they're still at risk of losing their jobs. So we've still got a lot of work to do. And over the next several weeks you will be seeing additional actions by the administration. What I just wanted to emphasize today, and I think that Ben Bernanke and Sheila Bair and our economic team as a whole would agree, we're starting to see progress. And if we stick with it, if we don't flinch in the face of some difficulties, then I feel absolutely convinced that we are going to get this economy back on track. All right? Thank you very much, guys. Q Is it still going to get worse before it gets better? THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. Q Sir, are you saying the recession is abating? THE PRESIDENT: I'm saying we're seeing progress. Q You're saying what? THE PRESIDENT: I've said that we're seeing progress. Okay, thank you, guys. Have a wonderful holiday. Q Thank you, sir. Q When is the dog coming? THE PRESIDENT: Oh, man, now, that's top secret. (Laughter.) That's top secret. Q Exactly. THE PRESIDENT: Oh, no, no, this is tightening up. Any of you going to be at the Easter Egg Roll? Q Oh, yes. THE PRESIDENT: That's big. ([...]



Obama's Remarks on Improving Veterans' Care

Thu, 09 Apr 2009 22:52:47 -0600

To the VSO and MSO leaders who work hard on behalf of those who serve this nation, thank you for your advocacy and your hard work. As I look out in the audience, especially seeing these folks in their uniforms, I am reminded of the fact that we have the best fighting force in world history, and the reason we do is because of all of you. And so I'm very grateful for what you've done to protect and serve this country. It is good to be back. We've had a productive week working to advance America's interests around the world. We worked to renew our alliances to enhance our common security. We collaborated with other nations to take steps towards rebuilding the global economy, which will revitalize our own. And before coming home, I stopped to visit with our men and women who are serving bravely in Iraq. First and foremost, I wanted to say "thank you" to them on behalf of a grateful nation. They've faced extraordinary challenges, and they have performed brilliantly in every mission that's been given to them. They have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country, and that is a great gift. You know, we often talk about ideals like sacrifice and honor and duty. But these men and women, like the men and women who are here, embody it. They have made sacrifices many of us cannot begin to imagine. We're talking about men like Specialist Jake Altman and Sergeant Nathan Dewitt, two of the soldiers who I had the honor to meet when I was in Baghdad. In 2007, as Specialist Altman was clearing mines so that other soldiers might travel in safety, he lost his hand when an IED struck his vehicle. And at Walter Reed, he asked to relearn the skills necessary to perform his duties with a prosthetic so that he could rejoin his old battalion. Sergeant Dewitt was severely injured in an attack last September, but he refused to let his injuries stop him from giving first aid to his wounded comrades. Today, they're both back alongside their fellow soldiers in their old units. And we're talking about women like Tammy Duckworth, who I think is here -- Tammy, where are you? There you are -- a great friend who lost her legs when a rocket struck the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting over Iraq. And when she returned home, she continued to serve her country heading the Department of Veterans Affairs in Illinois, and she serves her country still as my nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. We're talking about heroes like all the service members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces, including the veterans who've joined us here today -- many who gave up much yet signed up to give more; many with their own battles still to come; all with their own stories to tell. For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren't nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. It's a commitment that begins at enlistment, and it must never end. But we know that for too long, we've fallen short of meeting that commitment. Too many wounded warriors go without the care that they need. Too many veterans don't receive the support that they've earned. Too many who once wore our nation's uniform now sleep in our nation's streets. It's time to change all that. It's time to give our veterans a 21st-century VA. Over the past few months we've made much progress towards that end, and today I'm pleased to announce some new progress. Under the leadership of Secretary Gates and Secretary Shinseki, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have taken a first step towards creating one unified lifetime electronic health record for members of our armed services that will contain their administrative and medical information -- from the day they first enlist to the day that they are laid to rest. Current[...]



Obama's Remarks to the Troops in Iraq

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 20:29:31 -0600

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) I am honored -- I'm honored and grateful to be with all of you. And I'm not going to talk long because I want to shake as many hands as I can. (Applause.) And I've been talking all week. (Laughter.) But there's a couple of things I want to say. Number one, thank you. AUDIENCE MEMBER: You're welcome. THE PRESIDENT: You know, when I was at Camp Lejeune I spoke about what it means for America to see our best and brightest, our finest young men and women serve us. And what I said then is something that I want to repeat to you, which is: You have performed brilliantly in every mission that has been given to you. AUDIENCE: Ooh-ah. THE PRESIDENT: Under enormous strain and under enormous sacrifice, through controversy and difficulty and politics, you've kept your eyes focused on just doing your job. And because of that, every mission that's been assigned -- from getting rid of Saddam, to reducing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections -- you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement, and for that you have the thanks of the American people. (Applause.) That's point number one. Point number two is, this is going to be a critical period, these next 18 months. I was just discussing this with your commander, but I think it's something that all of you know. It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. (Applause.) They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty. (Applause.) And in order for them to do that, they have got to make political accommodations. They're going to have to decide that they want to resolve their differences through constitutional means and legal means. They are going to have to focus on providing government services that encourage confidence among their citizens. All those things they have to do. We can't do it for them. But what we can do is make sure that we are a stalwart partner, that we are working alongside them, that we are committed to their success, that in terms of training their security forces, training their civilian forces in order to achieve a more effective government, they know that they have a steady partner with us. And so just as we thank you for what you've already accomplished, I want to say thank you because you will be critical in terms of us being able to make sure that Iraq is stable, that it is not a safe haven for terrorists, that it is a good neighbor and a good ally, and we can start bringing our folks home. (Applause.) So now is not the time to lose focus. We have to be even more focused than we've been in order to achieve success. The last point I want to make is I know how hard it's been on a lot of you. You've been away from your families, many of you for multiple rotations. You've seen buddies of yours injured and you remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. AUDIENCE: Ooh-ah. THE PRESIDENT: There are probably some people here who have seen children born and have been missing watching them grow up. There are many of you who have listened to your spouse and the extraordinary sacrifices that they have to make when you're gone. And so I want you to know that Michelle and myself are doing everything -- (applause) -- are doing everything we can to provide additional support for military families. The federal budget that I have introduced increases support for military families. We are going to do everything required to make sure that the commitment we make to our veterans is met, and that people don't have to fight for what they have earned as a consequence of their service. The main point I want to make is we have not forgotten what you have already done, we are grateful for what you will do, and as long as I am in the White House, you are going to get the support that you need and the thanks that you deserve from a grateful nation. (Applause.) So thank you very much everybody. (Applause.) God bless you. (Ap[...]



Obama's Speech on Nuclear Proliferation

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 12:26:48 -0600

I've learned over many years to appreciate the good company and the good humor of the Czech people in my hometown of Chicago. (Applause.) Behind me is a statue of a hero of the Czech people -- Tomas Masaryk. (Applause.) In 1918, after America had pledged its support for Czech independence, Masaryk spoke to a crowd in Chicago that was estimated to be over 100,000. I don't think I can match his record -- (laughter) -- but I am honored to follow his footsteps from Chicago to Prague. (Applause.) For over a thousand years, Prague has set itself apart from any other city in any other place. You've known war and peace. You've seen empires rise and fall. You've led revolutions in the arts and science, in politics and in poetry. Through it all, the people of Prague have insisted on pursuing their own path, and defining their own destiny. And this city -- this Golden City which is both ancient and youthful -- stands as a living monument to your unconquerable spirit. When I was born, the world was divided, and our nations were faced with very different circumstances. Few people would have predicted that someone like me would one day become the President of the United States. (Applause.) Few people would have predicted that an American President would one day be permitted to speak to an audience like this in Prague. (Applause.) Few would have imagined that the Czech Republic would become a free nation, a member of NATO, a leader of a united Europe. Those ideas would have been dismissed as dreams. We are here today because enough people ignored the voices who told them that the world could not change. We're here today because of the courage of those who stood up and took risks to say that freedom is a right for all people, no matter what side of a wall they live on, and no matter what they look like. We are here today because of the Prague Spring -- because the simple and principled pursuit of liberty and opportunity shamed those who relied on the power of tanks and arms to put down the will of a people. We are here today because 20 years ago, the people of this city took to the streets to claim the promise of a new day, and the fundamental human rights that had been denied them for far too long. Sametovsa e Revoluce -- (applause) -- the Velvet Revolution taught us many things. It showed us that peaceful protest could shake the foundations of an empire, and expose the emptiness of an ideology. It showed us that small countries can play a pivotal role in world events, and that young people can lead the way in overcoming old conflicts. (Applause.) And it proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. That's why I'm speaking to you in the center of a Europe that is peaceful, united and free -- because ordinary people believed that divisions could be bridged, even when their leaders did not. They believed that walls could come down; that peace could prevail. We are here today because Americans and Czechs believed against all odds that today could be possible. (Applause.) Now, we share this common history. But now this generation -- our generation -- cannot stand still. We, too, have a choice to make. As the world has become less divided, it has become more interconnected. And we've seen events move faster than our ability to control them -- a global economy in crisis, a changing climate, the persistent dangers of old conflicts, new threats and the spread of catastrophic weapons. None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily. But all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together; that we focus on our common interests, not on occasional differences; and that we reaffirm our shared values, which are stronger than any force that could drive us apart. That is the work that we must carry on. That is the work that I have come to Europe to begin. (Applause.) To renew our prosperity, we need action coordinated across borders. That means investments to create new jobs. That means resis[...]



Obama's Remarks on the NATO and G-20 Events

Sat, 04 Apr 2009 15:11:56 -0600

I began my trip by attending a summit of the G20 - the countries that represent the world's largest economies - because we know that the success of America 's economy is inextricably linked to that of the global economy. If people in other countries cannot spend, that means they cannot buy the goods we produce here in America , which means more lost jobs and more families hurting. Just yesterday, we learned that we lost hundreds of thousands more jobs last month, adding to the millions we've lost since this recession began. And if we continue to let banks and other financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, that affects institutions here at home as credit dries up, and people can't get loans to buy a home or car, to run a small business or pay for college.

Ultimately, the only way out of a recession that is global in scope is with a response that is global in coordination. That is why I'm pleased that after two days of careful negotiation, the G20 nations have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps that I believe will be a turning point in our pursuit of a global economic recovery. All of us are now moving aggressively to get our banks lending again. All of us are working to spur growth and create jobs. And all of us have agreed on the most sweeping reform of our financial regulatory framework in a generation - reform that will help end the risky speculation and market abuses that have cost so many people so much.

I also met this past week with the leaders of China and Russia , working to forge constructive relationships to address issues of common concern, while being frank with each other about where we disagree. President Hu and I agreed that the link between China 's economy and ours is of great mutual benefit, and we established a new Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the U.S. and China . President Medvedev and I discussed our shared commitment to a world without nuclear weapons, and we signed a declaration putting America and Russia on the path to a new treaty to further reduce our nuclear arsenals. Tomorrow, I will lay out additional steps we must take to secure the world's loose nuclear materials and stop the spread of these deadly weapons.

Finally, I met yesterday with our NATO allies and asked them for additional civilian support and assistance for our efforts in Afghanistan . That is where al Qaeda trains, plots, and threatens to launch their next attack. And that attack could occur in any nation, which means that every nation has a stake in ensuring that our mission in Afghanistan succeeds.

As we have worked this week to find common ground and strengthen our alliances, we have not solved all of our problems. And we have not agreed on every point or every issue in every meeting. But we have made real and unprecedented progress - and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.

Because in the end, we recognize that no corner of the globe can wall itself off from the threats of the twenty-first century, or from the needs and concerns of fellow nations. The only way forward is through shared and persistent efforts to combat fear and want wherever they exist. That is the challenge of our time. And if we move forward with courage and resolve, I am confident that we will meet this challenge.




Obama's Press Conference in Strasbourg

Sat, 04 Apr 2009 12:57:46 -0600

I should point out that the election of Prime Minister Rasmussen was unanimous, but there was important efforts to make sure that everybody felt included. And I want to thank, in particular, Turkey for raising some concerns having to do with their security issues and their confidence that the new Secretary General would address them. So I congratulate all the parties concerned in arriving at a outstanding outcome. The NATO was founded on the basis of a simple but solemn commitment: An attack on one is an attack on all. And from that foundation we forged the strongest Alliance in history, an Alliance that is stronger because it is made up of free nations. Sixty years ago much of Europe was in rubble, and this continent was divided. Today the Cold War is over and Europe is free. Former adversaries have reconciled. We've protected peace and security in the Balkans. Our Alliance has more than doubled in size. There was nothing predestined about the success. It took decades of consistent effort, careful cooperation and collective action. But while we celebrate NATO's achievements, we can't rest upon them. The 21st century has ushered in a new era of global threats. To meet these dangers, the Alliance must renew and reform itself once more. The United States came here to listen, to learn, and to lead, because all of us have a responsibility to do our parts. America can't meet our global challenges alone; nor can Europe meet them without America. I'm confident that the leaders who join me here today share that view and that we're moving forward with a sense of common purpose. We made great progress. Albania and Croatia are now formally NATO members. We welcomed France's renewed commitment to the Alliance's military structures. And we agreed to develop a new strategic concept, which will be critical in modernizing NATO so that it can meet the challenges of our time. We need to strengthen our planning to protect all of our allies. And we need the capacity to meet new and unconventional challenges. We need to partner with other countries and international institutions, and we need a constructive relationship with Russia on issues of common concern. Today I focused in particular on Afghanistan. NATO's mission there represents both the promise of its past and its purpose for the future. After 9/11, our allies declared the attacks on New York and Washington an attack on all. And together, we embarked on the first mission beyond Europe against an enemy that recognizes no borders or laws of war. Seven years later, al Qaeda is active in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. These terrorists threaten every member of NATO. They've struck in both Europe and North America. They are plotting new attacks, and that's why my administration undertook a comprehensive review of our strategy. We listened carefully and we consulted closely with our allies. And today I briefed them on the results and discussed how we might move forward together. We start from a simple premise: For years, our efforts in Afghanistan have lacked the resources needed to achieve our goals. And that's why the United States has recommitted itself to a clear and focused goal -- to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. This effort cannot be America's alone. All of NATO understands that al Qaeda is a threat to all of us, and that this collective security effort must achieve its goals. And as a signal of that commitment, I am pleased that our NATO allies pledged their strong and unanimous support for our new strategy. Keep in mind it was only just a week ago that we announced this new approach. But already with Secretary Clinton's work at The Hague and with the success at today's summit we've started to match real resources to achieve our goals. We're leaving Strasbourg and Kehl with concrete commitments on[...]



A Turning Point in the Global Economic Recovery

Thu, 02 Apr 2009 14:11:58 -0600

The challenge is clear. The global economy is contracting. Trade is shrinking. Unemployment is rising. The international financial system is nearly frozen. Even these facts cannot fully capture the crisis that we are confronting. Because behind them is the pain and uncertainty that so many people are facing. We see it back home in our own communities. Families have lost their homes. Workers are losing their jobs and their savings. Students are deferring their dreams. So many have lost so much. Just to underscore this point, jobless claims released back home today were the highest in 26 years. We owe it to all of our citizens to act, and to act with a sense of urgency. In an age when our economies are linked more closely than ever before, the whole world has been touched by this devastating downturn. And today, the world's leaders have responded today with an unprecedented set of comprehensive and coordinated actions. Faced with similar global economic challenges in the past, the world was slow to act, and people paid an enormous price. That was true in the Great Depression, when nations prolonged and worsened the crisis by turning inward, waiting for more than a decade to meet the challenge together. And even in the 1980s, a slow global response deepened and widened a debt crisis in Latin America that pushed millions into poverty. Today, we have learned the lessons of history. I know that in the days leading up to this Summit, some confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences. But after weeks of preparation, and two days of careful negotiation, we have agreed upon a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again. First, we are committed to growth and job creation. Nearly all G-20 nations have acted to stimulate demand, which will total well over $2 trillion in global fiscal expansion. The United States is also partnering with the private sector to clean out legacy assets that are crippling some banks, and using the full force of the government to ensure that our action leads directly to loans that people and businesses depend upon. These efforts will be amplified by our G-20 partners, who are pursing similarly comprehensive programs. We have also agreed on bold action to support developing countries, so that we aren't faced with declining markets that the global economy depends upon. Together, the G-20 is tripling the IMF's lending capacity and promoting lending by multilateral development banks to increase the purchasing power and expand markets in every country And we have rejected the protectionism that could deepen this crisis. History tells us that turning inward can help turn a downturn into a Depression. This cooperation between the world's leading economies signals our support for open markets, as does our multilateral commitment to trade finance that will grow our exports and create new jobs. Second, we are committed to comprehensive reform of a failed regulatory system. Together, we must put an end to the bubble and bust economy that has stood in the way of sustained growth, and enabled abusive risk-taking that endangers our prosperity. At home, our efforts began with the approach that Secretary Geithner proposed last week, the strongest regulatory reforms any nation has contemplated to prevent the massive failure of responsibility that we have seen. And today, these principles have informed and enabled the coordinated action that we will take with our G-20 partners. To prevent future crises, we agreed to increased transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We are extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets and products, including hedge funds. We will identify jurisdictions that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial system. We will re-establish the F[...]



Obama's Auto Industry Restructuring Announcement

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 11:54:33 -0600

The pain being felt in places that rely on our auto industry is not the fault of our workers, who labor tirelessly and desperately want to see their companies succeed. And it is not the fault of all the families and communities that supported manufacturing plants throughout the generations. Rather, it is a failure of leadership - from Washington to Detroit - that led our auto companies to this point. Year after year, decade after decade, we have seen problems papered-over and tough choices kicked down the road, even as foreign competitors outpaced us. Well, we have reached the end of that road. And we, as a nation, cannot afford to shirk responsibility any longer. Now is the time to confront our problems head-on and do what's necessary to solve them. We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America's success. It is what helped build the middle class and sustained it throughout the 20th century. It is a source of deep pride for the generations of American workers whose hard work and imagination led to some of the finest cars the world has ever known. It is a pillar of our economy that has held up the dreams of millions of our people. But we also cannot continue to excuse poor decisions. And we cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of tax dollars. These companies - and this industry - must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state. That is why the federal government provided General Motors and Chrysler with emergency loans to prevent their sudden collapse at the end of last year - only on the condition that they would develop plans to restructure. In keeping with that agreement, each company has submitted a plan to restructure. But after careful analysis, we have determined that neither goes far enough to warrant the substantial new investments that these companies are requesting. And so today, I am announcing that my administration will offer GM and Chrysler a limited period of time to work with creditors, unions, and other stakeholders to fundamentally restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional tax dollars; a period during which they must produce plans that would give the American people confidence in their long-term prospects for success. What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognize that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts. Only then can we ask American taxpayers who have already put up so much of their hard-earned money to once more invest in a revitalized auto industry. But I am confident that if we are each willing to do our part, then this restructuring, as painful as it will be in the short-term, will mark not an end, but a new beginning for a great American industry; an auto industry that is once more out-competing the world; a 21st century auto industry that is creating new jobs, unleashing new prosperity, and manufacturing the fuel-efficient cars and trucks that will carry us toward an energy independent future. I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal: the United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars. No one can deny that our auto industry has made meaningful progress in recent years. Some of the cars made by American workers are now outperforming the best cars made abroad. In 2008, the North American Car of the Year was a GM. This year, Buick tied for first place as the most reliable car in the world. And our companies are investing in breakthrough technologies that hold the promise of new vehic[...]



Obama's Remarks on North Dakota Flooding

Sat, 28 Mar 2009 10:22:23 -0600

That is why, on Tuesday, I granted a major disaster declaration request for the State of North Dakota and ordered federal support into the region to help state and local officials respond to the flooding. This was followed by an emergency declaration for the State of Minnesota. And we are also keeping close watch on the situation in South Dakota as it develops. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to coordinate the federal response. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is helping to oversee federal efforts and she remains in close contact with state officials. Acting FEMA administrator Nancy Ward has been in the region since yesterday to meet with folks on the ground and survey the area herself. In addition, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is assisting in the emergency construction of levees. The Coast Guard is aiding in search and rescue efforts while the Department of Defense is helping to move people and supplies. Members of the National Guard have been activated and are on the scene as well. Hospitals and nursing homes in the area are being evacuated and residents in poor health or with special needs are being transported to higher ground. Teams from the Department of Health and Human Services are aiding in this work. And the Red Cross is in place to provide shelter and supplies for folks in need. It is also important for residents in these states to remain vigilant in monitoring reports on flood crests and to follow instructions from their state and local leaders in the event that evacuations become necessary. My administration is working closely with Governors John Hoeven, Mike Rounds and Tim Pawlenty. And I've been meeting with Senators Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, and Amy Klobuchar, as well as Congressmen Earl Pomeroy and Collin Peterson, to pledge my support. I will continue to monitor the situation carefully. We will do what must be done to help in concert with state and local agencies and non-profit organizations - and volunteers who are doing so much to aid the response effort. For at moments like these, we are reminded of the power of nature to disrupt lives and endanger communities. But we are also reminded of the power of individuals to make a difference. In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river's banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels. College students have traveled by the busload from nearby campuses to lend a hand during their spring breaks. Students from local high schools asked if they could take time to participate. Young people have turned social networks into community networks, coordinating with one another online to figure out how best to help. In the face of an incredible challenge, the people of these communities have rallied in support of one another. And their service isn't just inspirational - it's integral to our response. It's also a reminder of what we can achieve when Americans come together to serve their communities. All across the nation, there are men, women and young people who have answered that call, and millions of other who would like to. Whether it's helping to reduce the energy we use, cleaning up a neighborhood park, tutoring in a local school, or volunteering in countless other ways, individual citizens can make a big difference. That is why I'm so happy that legislation passed the Senate this week and the House last week to provide more opportunities for Americans to serve their communities and the country. The bipartisan Senate bil[...]



Obama's Remarks at Holder's Installation

Fri, 27 Mar 2009 20:37:32 -0600

I also want to welcome Eric's entire family, who is here today. Like me, Eric married up -- (laughter and applause) -- and we are grateful to his extraordinary wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, and their children -- Brooke, Maya and Eric -- for sharing him with all of us. So, Sharon, thank you. Thank you, guys. (Applause.) There are few more important jobs in our nation's government than that of Attorney General. As President, I swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. And as Eric himself has said, it is the Attorney General who serves as "the guardian of that revered document" that is the basis of our laws and the driving force of our democracy. And that's what's always distinguished this nation -- that we are bound together not by a shared bloodline or allegiance to any one leader or faith or creed, but by an adherence to a set of ideals. That's the core notion of our founding -- that ours is a "government of laws, and not men." It is the motto inscribed on the library of my law school alma mater: "Not under man but under God and law." But today, as we install the man charged with upholding our laws, we are reminded that the work of translating law into justice -- of ensuring that those words put to paper more than two centuries ago mean something for all of our people -- that is a fundamentally human process. It is what so many of you -- the men and women of our Justice Department -- do every single day: keeping us safe from terrorist attacks; bringing to justice those who would do us harm; rooting out corruption and fighting violent crime; protecting our markets from manipulation and our environment from pollution; and upholding our most fundamental civil rights. That's why I sought to appoint an Attorney General who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook -- it's about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives: whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their own homes and welcome in their own nation. I sought someone who recognizes the very real threats we face, but has the wisdom, in those hard-to-call cases, to find that fine balance between ensuring our security and preserving our liberty. And most of all, I was looking for someone who believes deeply enough in the American people's cause to serve as the American people's lawyer. And taken together, I think that's a pretty good description of our new Attorney General. It's a reflection of how he was raised, and of the choices he's made throughout his life. Eric's father came to this country as a boy and served in the Army during the second World War. And even though he couldn't get served at a lunch counter in the nation he defended, he never stopped believing in its promise. He and Eric's mother worked hard to seize that promise for their sons and give them every opportunity to succeed. But Eric was never content to achieve just for himself. Each time he rose, he worked to pull others up with him: mentoring young people in college; working for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in law school; distinguishing himself as a prosecutor, a judge, and a leader in this department. All along, working tirelessly to right the balance of power so ordinary people could get a fair shake; all along, showing the independence of mind that justice requires -- never hesitating to take on members of his own party, including those to whom he owed his job. In fact, several months ago, Eric even had the audacity to comment to a reporter on my basketball skills. (Laughter.) He said, and I quote -- (laughter) -- here's what he said -- he said, "I'm not sure he's ready for my New York game." (Laughter.) We will see about that, Mr. Attorney General. (Laughter [...]



A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Fri, 27 Mar 2009 09:48:14 -0600

The situation is increasingly perilous. It has been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks against our troops, our NATO allies, and the Afghan government have risen steadily. Most painfully, 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for American forces. Many people in the United States - and many in partner countries that have sacrificed so much - have a simple question: What is our purpose in Afghanistan? After so many years, they ask, why do our men and women still fight and die there? They deserve a straightforward answer. So let me be clear: al Qaeda and its allies - the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks - are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the U.S. homeland from its safe-haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can. The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan. In the nearly eight years since 9/11, al Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. This almost certainly includes al Qaeda's leadership: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe-haven to hide, train terrorists, communicate with followers, plot attacks, and send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan. For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world. But this is not simply an American problem - far from it. It is, instead, an international security challenge of the highest order. Terrorist attacks in London and Bali were tied to al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan, as were attacks in North Africa and the Middle East, in Islamabad and Kabul. If there is a major attack on an Asian, European, or African city, it - too - is likely to have ties to al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan. The safety of people around the world is at stake. For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people - especially women and girls. The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence. As President, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future. We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends and allies, and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists. So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you. To achieve our goals, we need a stronger, smarter and comprehensive strategy. To focus on the greatest threat to our people, America must no longer deny resources to Afghanistan because of the war in Iraq. To enhance the military, governance, and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have to marshal international support. And to defeat an enemy that heeds no borders or laws of war, we must recognize the fundamental connect[...]



A Time for Global Action

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 00:30:49 -0600

My message is clear: The United States is ready to lead, and we call upon our partners to join us with a sense of urgency and common purpose. Our leadership is grounded in a simple premise: We will lift the American economy out of crisis and reform our regulatory structure, and these actions will be strengthened by complementary action abroad. Through example, the United States can promote a global recovery and build confidence around the world; and if the London Summit helps galvanize collective action, we can forge a secure recovery, and future crises can be averted. Our efforts must begin with swift action to stimulate growth. The U.S. has passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act--the most dramatic effort to jump-start job creation and lay a foundation for growth in a generation. Other G-20 members have pursued fiscal stimulus as well, and these efforts should be sustained until demand is restored. We should embrace a collective commitment to encourage open trade and investment, while resisting the protectionism that would deepen this crisis. We must restore the credit that businesses and consumers depend upon. We are working aggressively to stabilize our financial system. This includes an honest assessment of the balance sheets of major banks, and will lead directly to lending that can help Americans purchase goods, stay in their homes and grow businesses. This must continue to be amplified by the actions of our G-20 partners. Together, we can embrace a common framework that insists on transparency, accountability and restoring the flow of credit that is the lifeblood of a growing global economy. And the G-20, together with multilateral institutions, can provide trade finance to help lift up exports and create jobs. Third, we have an economic, security and moral obligation to extend a hand to countries and people who face the greatest risk. If we turn our backs on them, the suffering caused by this crisis will be enlarged, and our recovery will be delayed because markets for our goods will shrink further and more American jobs will be lost. The G-20 should quickly deploy resources to stabilize emerging markets, substantially boost the emergency capacity of the International Monetary Fund and help regional development banks accelerate lending. Meanwhile, America will support meaningful investments in food security that can help the poorest. While these actions can help get us out of crisis, we cannot settle for a return to the status quo. We must put an end to the reckless speculation and spending beyond our means, and to the bad credit, overleveraged banks and absence of oversight that condemns us to bubbles that inevitably bust. Only coordinated international action can prevent the irresponsible risk-taking that caused this crisis. All of our financial institutions--on Wall Street and around the globe--need strong oversight and common sense rules of the road. All markets should have standards for stability and a mechanism for disclosure. A strong framework of capital requirements should protect against future crises. We must crack down on offshore tax havens and money laundering. Rigorous transparency and accountability must check abuse, and the days of out-of-control compensation must end. Instead of patchwork efforts that enable a race to the bottom, we must provide the clear incentives for good behavior that foster a race to the top. I know that America bears our share of responsibility for the mess that we all face. But I also know that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people. This G-20 meeting provides a forum for a new kind of global economi[...]



Investments in Clean Energy and New Technology

Mon, 23 Mar 2009 20:07:51 -0600

So thanks to them, thanks to all of you for coming. Welcome to the White House. We gather at a challenging time for our country. We face an economic crisis unlike any we've known in a generation. We've lost 4.4 million jobs since this recession began. Millions of families are at risk of losing their homes, and tens of millions more have lost value in their homes. Our financial system has been severely undermined by the collapse of a credit bubble that was -- is as irresponsible as it was unsustainable. Now, many of you in this room, I know, are experiencing this crisis in one way or another. Perhaps you've won fewer investors than you'd hoped, or you've earned lower revenues than you expected; perhaps your share price has fallen, or the cost of securing a loan has risen. But you're also helping us to overcome this crisis. Paul's company, Serious Materials, just reopened, as he mentioned, a manufacturing plant outside of Pittsburgh. Last year, that factory was shuttered and more than one hundred jobs were lost. The town was devastated. Today, that factory is whirring back to life, and Serious Materials is rehiring the folks who lost their jobs. And these workers will now have a new mission: producing some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world. We've got other examples in this room. Deepika Singh -- where is Deepika, is she here? There you are, right there. Deepika is here from Gainesville, Florida. She's the founder and president of Sinmat -- did I pronounce that correctly? -- that's developing new ways to manufacture microchips that can help power smarter energy systems, from more fuel-efficient hybrid cars to more responsive, efficient lighting for homes and businesses. So these are the stories that are being told all across our country. I remember during the campaign I visited McKinstry Company in Seattle, which is retrofitting schools and businesses to make them more energy efficient. McKinstry is expanding and expects to hire as many as 500 new workers in the next few years. I visited another company, PV Powered, a company developing more reliable solar technology in Bend, Oregon. And then there was Bombard Electric in Las Vegas which is building up Nevada's renewable energy capacity. And just last week I visited the Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, California, which is testing batteries to power a new generation of plug-in hybrids that will help end our dependence on foreign oil. I have to say, Susan, the battery I saw was bigger than that one that's on the desk -- (laughter) -- but that may be the direction we're moving. So innovators like you are creating the jobs that will foster our recovery -- and creating the technologies that will power our long-term prosperity. So I thank you for your work. It's said that necessity is the mother of invention. At this moment of necessity, we need you. We need some inventiveness. Your country needs you to create new jobs and lead new industries. Your country needs you to mount a historic effort to end once and for all our dependence on foreign oil. And in this difficult endeavor -- in this pursuit on which I believe our future depends -- your country will support you. Your President will support you. My administration has begun implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will create or save 3.5 million jobs -- and 90 percent of those will be in the private sector. Through $59 billion invested in clean energy and in tax incentives to promote clean energy, the Recovery Act is estimated to create more than 300,000 jobs. And these are jobs that will be created as we double our country's supply of renewable energy and make the largest investment in basic research funding in Amer[...]



Obama Pushes Budget in Weekly Address

Sat, 21 Mar 2009 10:06:15 -0600

With the magnitude of the challenges we face, I don't just view this budget as numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs. It's an economic blueprint for our future - a vision of America where growth is not based on real estate bubbles or overleveraged banks, but on a firm foundation of investments in energy, education, and health care that will lead to a real and lasting prosperity. These investments are not a wish list of priorities that I picked out of thin air - they are a central part of a comprehensive strategy to grow this economy by attacking the very problems that have dragged it down for too long: the high cost of health care and our dependence on foreign oil; our education deficit and our fiscal deficit. Now, as the House and the Senate take up this budget next week, the specific details and dollar amounts in this budget will undoubtedly change. That's a normal and healthy part of the process. But when all is said and done, I expect a budget that meets four basic principles: First, it must reduce our dependence on dangerous foreign oil and finally put this nation on a path to a clean, renewable energy future. There is no longer a doubt that the jobs and industries of tomorrow will involve harnessing renewable sources of energy. The only question is whether America will lead that future. I believe we can and we will, and that's why we've proposed a budget that makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy, while investing in technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and fuel-efficient cars and trucks that can be built right here in America. Second, this budget must renew our nation's commitment to a complete and competitive education for every American child. In this global economy, we know the countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, and we know that our students are already falling behind their counterparts in places like China. That is why we have proposed investments in childhood education programs that work; in high standards and accountability for our schools; in rewards for teachers who succeed; and in affordable college education for anyone who wants to go. It is time to demand excellence from our schools so that we can finally prepare our workforce for a 21st century economy. Third, we need a budget that makes a serious investment in health care reform - reform that will bring down costs, ensure quality, and guarantee people their choice of doctors and hospitals. Right now, there are millions of Americans who are just one illness or medical emergency away from bankruptcy. There are businesses that have been forced to close their doors or ship jobs overseas because they can't afford insurance. Medicare costs are consuming our federal budget. Medicaid is overwhelming our state budgets. So to those who say we have to choose between health care reform and fiscal discipline, I say that making investments now that will dramatically lower health care costs for everyone won't add to our budget deficit in the long-term - it is one of the best ways to reduce it. Finally, this budget must reduce that deficit even further. With the fiscal mess we've inherited and the cost of this financial crisis, I've proposed a budget that cuts our deficit in half by the end of my first term. That's why we are scouring every corner of the budget and have proposed $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. In total, our budget would bring discretionary spending for domestic programs as a share of the economy to its lowest level in nearly half a century. And we will continue making these tough choices in the months and years ahead so that as [...]